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F R E E L E G A L A D V I C E C E N T R E S
President of the Irish Human Commission, Maurice Manning, launched the proceedings from FLAC’s recent conference on ‘Public Interest Law in Ireland – the Reality and the Potential’ on 24 February in Chief O’Neill’s Hotel, Dublin. The conference, held in October 2005, brought together lawyers and activists in public interest law from Ireland and abroad to hear an array of speak- ers, whose contributions are now collated in the publication.
Included in the proceedings is PublicInterest Law and Litigation in Ireland,
carried out by Mel Cousins BL. Thereport examines the role Public Dr Maurice Manning President of the Irish Human Rights Commission who launched
the Proceedings with Philip Joyce Vice President of the Law Society (left) and Mel
plays or might play in advancing theposition of disadvantaged and vul-
FLAC Public Interest Law Seminar Series
Ireland. It follows FLAC’s major confer-
3. Structures for public interest law and litigation
Hogan Mezzanine SuiteCroke Park Conference
1. Procedural Obstacles to PILL
This seminar will focus how public inter-
est law and litigation might be best deliv-
ered in Ireland. It will examine structures
cuss their suitability in the Irish context.
be overcome. It will cover issues suchas amicus curiae briefs, class actions,
4. Roundtable Discussion locus standi, dealing with costs and pro-
tective costs orders. It is aimed largely
NGO sector. Its primary goal is to identi-
in this jurisdiction and formulate strate-
law practitioners from other jurisdictions,
2. How PILL can address the needs
law and litigation strategy in Ireland. The
results of the workshops will form part of
the consultants’ further deliberations.
quarterly by the Free LegalAdvice Centres (FLAC)
Advertising LAB services: What do you think? One of FLAC’s many concerns
sees such breadth in the legislation.
are aware of its existence believe that it
Dail that ‘ambit of the (Civil Legal Aid)
If you have any suggestions, please contact Paul Joyce at FLAC. Civil legal aid now available for Coroner’s Court In a judgment delivered in October evident that the next of kin needs In the meantime, presumably pending
Mrs Magee’s son Paul had died on St.
applying the rationale of Kelly J. inO’Donoghue v. The Legal AidBoard and Lardner J. in Stevensonv. Landy and Others and Kirwan v.Minister for Justice, that, due to the
private solicitors, she applied for legal
tional right to civil legal aid. This right
the case of O’Donoghue v Legal Aid
of a loved one’s death. This could lead
aid, including the O’Donoghue case.
legal aid. He stated that he “may, with
effective remedy are not vindicated.
legal aid in proceedings before a coro-ner where a person has died in, or
“… I take the view that as a result of
Research project to expose rough justice of Irish debt law Anew study to be conducted enforcement process is minimal, ular to deal with recalcitrant
debtors, the so-called ‘won’t pays’.
more enlightened and user-friendlyapproach needed to be taken to
undertake a review. It may be thatthe State wishes to maintain the
Increase in calls to FLAC on solicitors costs FLAC has recorded an increase in and determining fees and costs in be based on an assessment of the
their client fees in addition to the fees
ters. In addition no solicitor in private
fullest disclosure possible of the capital
to require the other party to make a full
assets and liabilities. There will have to
Increase in calls to FLAC on solicitors costs (cont’d)
onial Litigation – A Dysfunctional Legal
essary delay and so cut down on costs.
paid. In the case of A&L Goodbody vColthurst and Anor, Judge Peart stated
“….I do not believe that Section 68 was
solicitors who fail to issue a S. 68 letter
Focus on FLAC staff: Jackie Heffernan, Information & Referral Line Jacqueline Heffernan qualified as For me, it is equally important to be
when they seek help,” she explains.
Solicitors before taking a career breakin the 1990s. Jackie joined FLAC in
This increased its jurisdiction inFebruary 2006 from €1269.74 to
be increased still further to €10,000.
tion, Jackie says “it’s the first point of
in respect of the private rented sector.)
contact with FLAC for a lot of people –
“It is important for people to be aware
of where to get help when they need it. Capital Assessment for Legal Aid Applicants for civil legal aid are them and if both parties have lived there, unencumbered value exceeds the
threshold of €190,500, the capital con-
the value of the applicant’s principal pri-
often surprised to learn that it is not free
and that a contribution is required in all
the extent that its ‘unencumbered value’
value is less than €250,000, the capital
cant’s income contribution. In relation to
according to the applicant’s disposable
other capital resources, there is no con-
€320,000 disposable capital is not enti-
tribution payable in respect of the first
€3200 of disposable capital. Thereafter,
capital assets exceed €510,500 will not
but a person who has paid off their mort-
able contribution for legal representation
ed person’s contribution for the service.
gage may find themselves in this position
‘capital’ is defined as the value of every
tions can run to the full commercial rate
qualify for legal aid in relation to dispos-
house property, life insurance, valuables,
FLAC’s report on the civil legal aid system
debts owed to the applicant and the value
in Ireland, Access to Justice: A Right or a
of equipment including a car. If the appli-
Privilege?, published in July 2005, called
for the assessments in relation to capital
€3200, s/he must fill out a statement of
home is part of the calculation at all.
means (capital) form. This can be quite a
lation. There are positive indications that
they will qualify for civil legal aid.
In relation to the specific issue of house
However, the extent of a person’s capital
property, the value of the family home of
spouses is not assessed if it is part of the
required to pay for legal representation.
In relation to the family home, where its
ried in future editions of FLAC news. National Women’s Council of Ireland encourages public to sign anti-trafficking petition Back in March of this year, the on-line petition which can be found at services to women who have been www.nwci.ie and asks people to join At present Ireland remains the only EU member state that has yet to crimi- nalise the trafficking of human beings.
will be trafficked into Germany this June for
All signatures collected before the start of
of sexual exploitation and prostitution.
the FIFA World Cup in June will be collat-
Blatter and Football Association of Ireland
Chief Executive Officer John Delaney. Sign the petition and say no to the exploitation of women and young girls
A major part of the ‘Buying Sex is not a
TODAY! Contact: [email protected] for more information or call (01) 87 87 248. LEAPing forward in The Legal Education for All alternative access routes to legal ect and providing the promise of cre-
such as interactions with criminal law.
the aim is to get participants to certifi-
munity-based courses are alsooffered, as is support for extantcourses, like the FAS legal secretarytraineeship.
As part of the EQUAL programme,LEAP has been partnered with theSlovak branch of the KolpingFoundation, which promotes therights of the local minority Roma pop-ulation from its base in SpisskéPodhradie, Eastern Slovakia. TheEQUAL programme seeks to facili-tate an exchange of practicesaddressing socio-economically dis-advantaged communities across theEU and to provide a transnationaldimension
Participants from each country makestudy visits and the programme pro-vides for five meetings to exchange
Pictured are LEAP’s Transnational Partners who attended the launch
with Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Bronwen Maher (centre)
David Joyce ITM (second from right at front) and Elizabeth
Davidson LEAP Co ordinator (front far right)
learning, to be jointly delivered toproject participants.
A seminar chronicling the experiencewith LEAP to date took place inDublin at the Mansion House on 23March 2006 that detailed the project’sgenesis and progress and introducedthe content of the research project. Currently, there are two modules run-ning, one in Dublin at the CarmeliteCentre, and one in Limerick at St.
Michael’s Parish. This group is com-prised of people from both the
Traveller and settled communities,both Irish and foreign nationals, andwomen make up a 3:1 ratio of theparticipants. The participants rangein age from mid-20s to mid-40s.
Pictured are Prof Gerry Whyte Trinity College Law School Ken Murphy
Director General Law Society of Ireland and Marcella Higgins Director of
the Dublin group, and from Ennis,Killarney, Tipperary and Clonmel for
have input in choosing optional sub-jects. The system of tutors and men-
Copies of Proceedings and/or the DVD from FLAC’s Public Interest Law Conference are now available from the FLAC office. You can also sign up to the PILL Ireland Network (PILN) to receive updates on PILL issues and share opinions and information For more information on LEAP, with other Network members. see the project website at Mail us at [email protected] or call us http://www.itmtrav.com/LEAP.html at 01-874 5690 Taking women’s rights seriously As the conference programme
put it: “[d]espite the fact that it isover 20 years since CEDAW
was ratified by the Irish Government,there is still little awareness of theConvention among the general public,politicians, civil servants and policymakers. Few NGOs use CEDAW as atool in their campaigning work, nor is itused as a strategy by legal practition-ers to take cases.”
The conference “Taking CEDAWSeriously” held in March 2006 wasorganised by the Women’s HumanRights Alliance and was partially fund-ed by the Irish Centre for Human
L R: Noirin Clancy Co ordinator Women’s Human Rights Alliance; Noeline
Blackwell FLAC Director General; Shanti Dariam CEDAW Committee member and
Director of IWRWA; Faustina Pereira Advocate of Supreme Court Bangladesh; and
Joshua Castellino Acting Director of the LLM in International Peace Support
Operations at the Irish Centre for Human Rights Galway
Discrimination against Women, is oneof the world’s main human rights
universal and international law standards.
Irish law, it is up to the government and
Individuals are not entitled to insist on
substantive equality rights. To decide if
For further information on CEDAW, contact the
for a State of ratifying an international
Women's Human Rights Alliance, 3 The Plaza, Headford Road, Galway, tel.: 091-764372 or see their website: www.whra-ireland.org/ Beyond the figures: Persons on insufficient
The state civil legal aid scheme does not
means cannot always
address unmet legal need Instead thepresent ssystem p
avail of state civil
focused almost exclusively on family lawand is one where delay and lack ofresources iintroduce ssignificant b
legal aid After 25 years of state civil legal property, car, cash in hand, tistical information collected from FLAC
€3200, s/he must pass a ers In this article we will examine how
€320,000 will not be enti- need oof aassistance aare eexcluded
“capital” will include a person’s house
gages, but have very limited income.
a periodic review of the financial limits
restrictive financial criteria mayexclude many potential needy liti-
If the scheme of civil legal aid is to be
must not exceed €13,000 a year, i.e.
legal aid. To calculate this figure, cer-
should be reinstated at realistic levels. Public Interest Law: FLAC launches conference proceedings The following is an address present- ed by Michael Farrell, FLAC’s Senior Solicitor, to the proceedings launch:
believing that there is a very large areaof unmet legal need out there, and in
access their rights through the law.
dancing, gaiety and excitement. ButRobert Garcia, in one of the most com-
Mel Cousins’ report defines public interest
law as “a way of working with the law for
Interest Law and Litigation conference last
taged people”. He looks, not uncritically, at
Katrina had shattered that gaudy, carefree
the current level of public interest law pro-
Orleans, the poverty-stricken black neigh-
sage, reinforced by the other speakers at
tion and a coordinated strategy by all the
able odds and financial constraints.
ilies could not escape when public trans-
key players in the area and across the var-
ious component parts of public interest law
possess that quintessential symbol of the
and litigation, which he describes as law
education and strategic litigation, i.e. litiga-
It was a bit like a metaphor for our society
tion targeted to test and stretch the law in
the interests of those whom it is intended
the development of public interest law.
behind the affluent facade, for the old, the
• For the law schools, both the colleges
aspects of public interest law and how it
dependent on social welfare, the physical-
and exploited migrant workers, life is still
an unrelenting daily struggle to survive.
holders in this area, law schools, practi-
widening rather than getting narrower.
It is an irony that in this deeply unequal
• For the legal professional bodies, to
justice in our still unequal society.
before – at least on paper. But access-
ing rights is the problem, especially for
commitment to pro bono work by their
people here will reflect on them and then
increase the amount of pro bono work
“The Reality and the Potential" of public
learn from, and be a little inspired by, the
people who were turning rights into real-
• For NGOs working with particular dis-
up to all of us now to try to channel that
these proceedings will bring something of
• And there is a key role for community
into an instrument for realising the rights
who were not able to make it on the day.
of the disadvantaged in our society.
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